One of the most life-changing purchases a man can make for himself is that of a good grill or smoker. I have enjoyed countless meals of steak, ribs, chicken, and Thanksgiving turkey, bathed in that beautiful, rich hickory flavor, all thanks to my smoker. It has totally changed how I prepare and consume the carnivorous portion of my diet.  

Earlier this week, I volunteered my smoking services to prepare steaks for my family. The weather was supposed to be decent, and I hadn’t had a chance to prepare any smoked delicacies in a few months. I pulled six beautiful rib eyes from the fridge to season and headed out to the patio to fire up the smoker. I pulled off the cover, opened the lid, and to my utter shock and disgust, I had a large colony of mold growing all over the inside of the smoker! After some reflection, I realized that last time I had used my smoker it was raining, and after finishing cooking, I had neglected to close and cover the smoker for several hours, allowing a plethora of moisture to accumulate inside. Furthermore, I had neglected to do anything to remedy the situation, allowing the moisture to sit and cultivate a science experiment level of mold within the grill.   

As I spent the next hour deep cleaning the entirety of my smoker, I couldn’t help but reflect on how I had neglected the basic routine maintenance required for continually operating this machine. Many factors had led up to the moldy breaking point in which I found myself: I should have cleaned out the ash so less water would have been retained, I should have cleaned the grease tray, I should have run the smoker on high when I first realized it had been open, to help dry out the moisture.  

Routine maintenance is a basic practice of life in order for things to work well (anyone with a car will tell you that). I’ve heard countless personal trainers say things like, “It’s easier to stay in shape than it is to get in shape.” Maintaining a healthy routine of doing the little things consistently helps us avoid bigger, far more costly consequences later, like a blown engine or diabetes.   

I notice that sometimes I can fall into neglecting the routine maintenance of my soul: I work myself to death without taking a sabbath, I avoid talking with close friends about struggles or difficulties I’m facing, and I forget or ignore the importance of consistent communication with the Father. All of these can and will lead to large and painful consequences in our hearts and lives.  

The key in our walk with the Lord, as is true in many facets of life, is simple consistency—the routine maintenance of the soul. The Lord has given us some good benchmarks in this: taking a day each week to rest (Exodus 20:8-11), living in a close community with other believers (James 5:16), and staying in constant communication with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Through these practices, we care for our minds and soul, keeping them running efficiently and avoiding any catastrophic failures. My hope is that we can keep up our soul’s routine maintenance, and hopefully avoid our hearts from growing moldy.